Posted by Dale Buss on August 27, 2012 05:00 PM
Among the many planned and officially sanctioned video showings at the Republican convention in Tampa this week will be a short tribute to Ron Paul, the Libertarian-leaning candidate who threw a fright into mainstream Republicans in the early presidential primaries but then faded -- and dutifully pledged not to mount a third-party effort to challenge the eventual GOP nominee, who will turn out to be Mitt Romney.
But by far the biggest video on the minds of convention-goers is likely to be one not officially screened there: 2016: Obama's America. The anti-Obama documentary narrated by conservative author Dinesh D'Souza was a huge box-office hit across the country over the weekend as it expanded to more than 1,000 screens, perhaps the start of what could be a strong run right on up to the November elections.
"You may love him. You may hate him. But you don't know him" is how TV ads on Fox News and elsewhere over the weekend were positioning the movie.
Regular news media have been professing that the box-office performance of the movie, already making it the No. 6-grossing documentary of all time, was "stunning." It may just be that entertainment-media members are largely out of touch with just how responsive many voters might be to a red-meat examination of the past, the motivations, and potential future actions of President Obama, especially because so few in the liberal-leaning news media did any vetting of Candidate Obama prior to his election in 2008.
With 2016 being advertised on Fox lately and D'Souza nabbing interviews on conservative talk-radio shows across the country, the movie's burgeoning audience might not be a big surprise. But co-director John Sullivan told the Wall Street Journal that he was surprised by how many the movie drew even in liberal Manhattan.
And 2016 will get some kind of due in Tampa. Sullivan told the newspaper that producers do intend to screen the film four times a day near the main convention hall for the GOP gathering and that he'll participate in some panel discussions at the convention itself.
Eat your heart out, Michael Moore. It turns out that hard-edged film polemics from the right can have an impact too.